Under NRS 207.200, Nevada law defines trespassing as entering someone else’s property without permission, or remaining on their property after being instructed to leave. Trespassing is a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00.
Most Las Vegas trespass cases involve casino patrons who allegedly refuse the security officers’ orders to exit the premises.
Four defense strategies to Nevada trespass charges include demonstrating that:
- The defendant had the right to be there;
- The defendant had the consent of the landowner to be there;
- The landowner did not give sufficient notice via signage and fences to stay off the property; or
- The defendant was exercising First Amendment rights.
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the definition of trespass in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties under NRS 207.200?
- 3. What are common defense strategies?
- 4. What if the defendant lives out of town?
- 5. Can the record be sealed?
- 6. What are the immigration consequences?
- 7. How long has trespass been a crime?
- 8. What are offenses related to trespass?
- 9. What are my rights if someone trespasses on my property?
NRS 207.200 defines “trespass” in Nevada as either:
- Going onto another persons’ property with the intent to annoy the owner or occupant or to commit a crime there,1 or
- Willfully going on or remaining on another person’s property after having been warned by the owner or occupant not to trespass.2
In short, a person faces a trespass citation or arrest by going – or remaining on – other people’s land without their consent.
The word trespass brings to mind intruders climbing over fences or “breaking and entering” in defiance of NO TRESPASSING signs. However, most Las Vegas trespass arrests occur in casinos when people merely refuse to leave, or refuse to stay away.
1.1. Las Vegas casino trespass arrests
The typical trespass arrest happens after a casino security guard asks a rowdy or intoxicated patron to leave, and the patron refuses.
Example: Jose attempts to break up a Hard Rock Hotel bar fight. Security arrives on the scene. They presume Jose is the trouble-maker. The guard tells Jose to leave the premises. But Jose stays where he is. He tries to explain the situation.
In the above example, it makes no difference that the Hard Rock is a public place or that the security guard was mistaken about Jose participating in the fistfight. After a property owner (or a person with authority over the property) asks someone there to leave, that person must comply or risk NRS 207.200 charges.3
Another common trespass scenario concerns patrons who return to casinos from which they have already been banned (“trespassed”).
Example: Security at Green Valley Ranch escorts Libby out. She was being too loud. Security orders her to stay away until the following day. Libby goes back inside. She just wants to retrieve her prescription meds. Which are in her hotel room. Security sees her and calls the police. The officers then book her at Henderson Jail. The D.A. charges her with trespass.
It is irrelevant that Libby in the above example needed her medicine or that she intended to leave the hotel as soon as she retrieved her medicine. The mere act of going back onto property grounds after having been ordered to stay away violates NRS 207.200.
Consequently, many Las Vegas patrons with hotel rooms face a catch-22 when they are ordered to leave: They can either stay out and be deprived of their belongings, or go back inside and risk arrest. The best thing people can do in this situation is to kindly ask the security guard to escort them to their room so they can gather their things.
(Casinos may also ask people to leave for carrying guns. Learn about concealed carry in Nevada casinos.)
1.1.1. Length and scope of casino trespass bans
Every casino has its own policies for how long a ban of a particular patron lasts. For instance, Mandalay Bay might allow a trespassed person back the following morning once the person sobers up. Meanwhile, Harrah’s Reno may institute a permanent blacklist.
Note that many people who are banished from casinos never receive written confirmation or notice. Instead, security orally advises them while they are being thrown out that they are no longer welcome. Also, note that this ban usually extends to all the casino’s sister properties.
Example: Penny gets kicked out of the Mirage for allegedly soliciting prostitution (NRS 201.354), and she gets flagged as “banned” at all MGM Mirage properties. So next month when Penny attends a job fair at the MGM, she risks security recognizing her name and getting arrested for trespass.
In practice, the Clark County District Attorney rarely press trespass charges stemming from bans that are more than one-year-old. So if Penny in the above example went to the MGM five years following the Mirage incident and got arrested for trespass, there is a good chance prosecutors would dismiss her case.
Anyone who has been ordered to leave a Nevada casino is advised to retain legal counsel to investigate how long the ban is in place for and if it can be lifted. Even people who are permanently trespassed from a casino may be able to apply for reinstatement after six months or so.
1.1.2. How casino trespass arrests play out
If a casino security guard in Nevada suspects a person of violating NRS 207.200, security will take the person to a detention room. At that point, either one of three things will occur:
- Security contacts the police. Who will then arrest and book the person in jail; or
- Security contacts the police. Who will then issue the person a citation. It will have instructions to appear at an arraignment; or
- Security releases the person after getting the contact information. Security will then pass this along to law enforcement. The D.A. will decide whether to press trespass charges. If yes, the D.A. will mail a summons. It will order the person to appear at the arraignment.
Trespass suspects who are behaving cooperatively and non-threateningly may be able to avoid an arrest. Instead, they may receive a citation or “summons in lieu of arrest” (abbreviated SIL) without having to be booked into jail.4
People who receive a citation or a summons in lieu of an arrest need to be careful not to ignore it. Failing to appear in court (NRS 199.335) is a separate crime carrying fines and/or jail, and the judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.5 But since trespass is such a minor offense, defendants can usually avoid appearing in court as long as they hire an attorney to go for them.
1.2. Other trespass situations in Nevada
The Nevada crime of trespass can also occur on residences and other businesses:
Example: Ivy’s ex-boyfriend Ian shows up at her rental house in Mesquite despite her telling him never to set foot there again. If Ivy contacts the police, Ian would probably be arrested and booked at the Mesquite Jail for committing trespass (and perhaps stalking under NRS 200.575 as well) for going on Ivy’s property in defiance of her orders never to come back.
As a tenant, Ivy in the above example can lawfully order Ian to stay away from her house. It makes no difference that Ivy does not actually own the home.6
Note that Nevada law automatically presumes people are guilty of trespass if they are found on someone else’s private property which is fenced in or marked with “no trespassing signs.”7
Example: Dirk is hiking by the perimeter of Red Rock Canyon and sees a picket fence. He jumps over the fence and resumes his hike. But since Nevada law deems being on fenced-in land as “prima facie” (plain and clear) evidence of trespass, Dirk can be liable for trespass even if he honestly did not realize he was on private property.
Therefore, Nevada judges may convict people of trespass for being on private, fenced-in land even if they had no knowledge they were trespassing. But if a landowner sees trespassers and verbally admonishes them to leave, the police will typically not arrest them as long as they leave quickly.
Trespass under NRS 207.200 is a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying a punishment of:
- Up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
- Up to a $1,000 fine8
Since trespass is relatively minor and non-violent, Las Vegas judges rarely impose jail time for first-time offenders. Repeat-trespass offenders are more vulnerable to incarceration.
2.1. Trespass dismissals
The Clark County District Attorney may allow defendants to take a submittal to trespass: This means that the trespass case will be completely dismissed without a trial once the defendant:
- Pays a small fine, and
- Avoids further arrests (“stays out of trouble”) until the fine is fully paid
And since there is no conviction, the defendant is free to pursue a record seal as soon as the case ends. (Scroll down to section 5 for more information about record seals.)
2.2. Pleading down to trespass
Because trespass is such a low-level offense, criminal defense attorneys frequently try to get more serious charges reduced to trespass as part of a plea bargain.
For example, the D.A. may agree to change a prostitution charge to trespass. By pleading to trespass, the defendant avoids trial and escapes the social stigma of having a prostitution conviction show up on the defendant’s criminal record.
The most effective way to fight NRS 207.200 allegations turns on the unique circumstances of the case. Four common defenses to Nevada trespass charges include showing that:
- The defendant had the right to be on the property;
- The defendant was on the property with the owner’s consent;
- There was insufficient warning against trespassing; or
- The defendant was exercising Constitutional rights
Note that it is generally not a defense that the defendant had no intention to break the law.9
3.1. The defendant had the right to be on the property
People who have the right to be on another’s property are not committing trespass unless someone with a greater right to the property orders them to leave.
Example: Vikash and Troy get into a bar fight at the Venetian. Troy yells at Vikash to leave, but Vikash insists on staying. Troy performs a “citizen’s arrest” on Vikash for trespass and calls the police.
When the police arrive, they decline to arrest Vikash for trespass. Troy possesses no authority over who is allowed on the Venetian’s property. Consequently, Vikash’s right to be at the Venetian serves as an effective defense against Nevada trespass charges.
A person’s right to be somewhere turns on the location itself. Businesses such as casinos or shopping malls are usually open to the general public unless a person is specifically asked to leave. This is unlike private homes, where a person generally needs prior consent of the owner or occupant before the person can legally be there as a guest.
3.2. The defendant had consent to be on the property
Trespass charges should not stand if the owner or occupant of the premises consented to the defendant being there. So if someone is invited to a party or event, the guest may stay until the owner or occupant requests that the person leave.
Example: UNLV sends out exclusive party invitations to all its alumni including Kate by mistake, who never actually attended the school. At the party, one of the other guests sees Kate and calls the police to arrest her for trespass because the event is meant only for alumni.
Kate did not commit trespass in Las Vegas because she was specifically invited and therefore had consent to be at the party. She could only be convicted for trespass at UNLV if a campus officer or someone else with authority actually told Kate to leave the party and she refused.
Proving consent can be challenging if there is no written or audio record of it. So defense attorneys would try to find other evidence such as eyewitnesses.
3.3. There was insufficient warning against trespassing
Nevada landowners are required to give others sufficient notice that they are not allowed on their property. Trespass charges may be dismissed if the landowner fails to adhere to these guidelines.
Nevada recognizes any of the following four methods as sufficient warning against trespassing:
- Fencing. This can include a wall, hedge, or chain link or wire mesh fence. But not barbed wire.
- No trespass signs. They must mark each corner of the land’s boundary. And they must be close enough so that a person at one sign can see another. And never more than 500 feet apart.
- Farmland. Cultivated land (with crops) is the same as a “no trespass” sign.
- Fluorescent orange paint: No less than 50 square inches of a structure or natural object or the top 12 inches of a post (whether made of wood, metal or other material). And the paintings must be close enough together so a person at one paining can see another. And never more than 1,000 feet apart. Paint must also mark each corner of the land’s boundary. There must also be paint on each side of all gates, cattle guards and openings that are designed to allow human ingress to the area.10
Therefore, it may be possible to have trespass charges dismissed if the evidence shows that the fencing or signs were unfinished, in disrepair, or if a reasonable person would not realize the fence’s or sign’s purpose.
3.4. The defendant was exercising Constitutional rights
In some cases, the strongest defense to NRS 207.200 charges is the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.11 However, free speech factors in only when the property at issue is a public forum such as a street or sidewalk.12:
Example: Lee and Leah are on a public sidewalk. They are outside a Green Valley abortion clinic. They are waving pro-life signs. Then Leah goes inside the abortion clinic. Leah refuses to leave when employees there ask her to. So the police come. They arrest both Lee and Leah for trespass.
The D.A. may drop the trespass charges against Lee. Protesting in public areas is free speech. But Leah’s protest encroached on private space. And then she refused to leave. So her trespass charge may stand.
Whenever someone exercises free speech and assembly in a public area, constitutional defenses may serve as an effective strategy for fighting trespass charges.
Trespass is a minor Nevada offense. In most cases, defendants do not have to appear in court. But only if they hire an attorney to appear for them.
Missing court – or not hiring counsel to appear – is a crime. The judge issues bench warrants for no-shows. Therefore, out-of-state defendants should hire local counsel.
People with bench warrants risk arrest during traffic stops. (However, police rarely extradite misdemeanor defendants to Nevada.)
Trespass convictions are sealable in Nevada. But there is a one-year wait after the case ends.13 Meanwhile, trespass dismissals are sealable right away.14
Violating NRS 207.200 may be just a misdemeanor. But it still looks bad on background checks. And employers may pass over applicants because of it. Learn more about sealing criminal records in Nevada.
An NRS 207.200 violation is not deportable.15 So non-citizens with trespass convictions should not face deportation. (Unless they are undocumented. The U.S. can deport illegal aliens for any reason.)
But immigration law is constantly changing. Any immigrant facing criminal charges should seek legal counsel. The attorney may be able to get the charge dismissed. Or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
Going onto or remaining on another’s property without consent has been illegal since Nevada became a state in 1864. However, many early trespass cases involved mining claims instead of casinos.16
Recent changes the Nevada Legislature made to NRS 207.200 are:
- In 2005, AB 190 affirmed that peering (NRS 200.603) can potentially carry stiffer sentences than trespass.
- In 2007, AB 80 redefined what constitutes adequate fencing and posting to give the public sufficient notice that they are trespassing.
- In 2009, AB 286 clarified that invited guests can still get convicted of trespass if they remain on the property after being asked to leave.
- In 2019, SB 221 further redefined what constitutes adequate fencing and posting to give the public sufficient notice that they are trespassing.
- One (1) to ten (10) years in Nevada State Prison, and
- Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
The prison sentence becomes two (2) to fifteen (15) years if the defendant had a deadly weapon.
Also note that trespass is not a “lesser-included” offense of burglary. This means that a burglary conviction does not automatically mean a trespass occurred.17
8.2. Home invasion
Home invasion (NRS 205.067) is defined as the forcible entry into an inhabited dwelling without permission. As opposed to trespass, home invasion applies only to residences and requires a “breaking in.”
Home invasion is a category B felony, carrying:
- Up to ten (10) years in prison, and
- Up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
8.3. Unlawful reentry
Unlawful reentry (NRS 205.082) occurs when people reenter property they previously occupied without the owner’s permission. People typically face unlawful reentry charges when they go onto property that they had been evicted from.
Unlawful reentry is a gross misdemeanor, carrying:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines
Loitering (NRS 207.270) occurs when a person hangs out near a school or public place where children normally congregate if the person has no legitimate reason to be there.
Loitering is a misdemeanor, carrying:
- Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Trespass victims can call the police or file a police report about the trespass. If possible, victims may wish to videotape or photograph the trespass to serve as evidence.
Trespass victims may also file a civil lawsuit against the trespasser. The plaintiff (trespass victim) would need to prove that the defendant (trespasser) intentionally intruded on the plaintiff’s property in order to recover damages.18
If the defendant caused property damage, the plaintiff can ask the court for compensatory damages to cover the cost of any repairs. If no damage was done, the defendant can still ask the court for nominal damages. If the defendant acted maliciously, the plaintiff can ask the court for punitive damages to punish the defendant.
If the trespasser is posing an immediate threat of injury, then the property owner or tenant can act in self-defense with reasonable and proportional force. In Nevada, homeowners or tenants do not have a duty to retreat when an intruder breaks into an occupied residence or vehicle; under the Castle Doctrine, the homeowner or tenant can even use deadly force to prevent what reasonably appears to be a home invasion.19
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Charged with trespass under NRS 207.200 in Nevada? Contact us for a free consultation. We will fight to get the charges dismissed without a trial.
¿Habla español? Más información sobre el crimen de Nevada penal ilícita intrusión.
Our lawyers fight criminal allegations throughout Clark County and the state of Nevada, including: Washoe County. And Nye County. Including Las Vegas. North Las Vegas. Henderson. Boulder City. Mesquite. Pahrump. Moapa. Laughlin. And Reno.
In California? See our article on trespass laws (PC 602).
In Colorado? See our article on trespass laws (CRS 18-4-502 – 504).
- This form of trespass is difficult for police to enforce because of the challenges of proving intent to annoy or vex. Dan Jennings, “Law Still Holds True: Thou Shalt Not Trespass,” Las Vegas Sun (Feb 11, 2009).
- NRS 207.200. Unlawful trespass upon land; warning against trespassing.
1. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 200.603, any person who, under circumstances not amounting to a burglary:
(a) Goes upon the land or into any building of another with intent to vex or annoy the owner or occupant thereof, or to commit any unlawful act; or
(b) Willfully goes or remains upon any land or in any building after having been warned by the owner or occupant thereof not to trespass,
-> is guilty of a misdemeanor. The meaning of this subsection is not limited by subsections 2 and 4.
2. A sufficient warning against trespassing, within the meaning of this section, is given by any of the following methods:
(a) Painting with fluorescent orange paint:
(1) Not less than 50 square inches of a structure or natural object or the top 12 inches of a post, whether made of wood, metal or other material, at:
(I) Intervals of such a distance as is necessary to ensure that at least one such structure, natural object or post would be within the direct line of sight of a person standing next to another such structure, natural object or post, but at intervals of not more than 1,000 feet; and
(II) Each corner of the land, upon or near the boundary; and
(2) Each side of all gates, cattle guards and openings that are designed to allow human ingress to the area;
(b) Fencing the area;
(c) Posting “no trespassing” signs or other notice of like meaning at:
(1) Intervals of such a distance as is necessary to ensure that at least one such sign would be within the direct line of sight of a person standing next to another such sign, but at intervals of not more than 500 feet; and
(2) Each corner of the land, upon or near the boundary;
(d) Using the area as cultivated land; or
(e) By the owner or occupant of the land or building making an oral or written demand to any guest to vacate the land or building.
3. It is prima facie evidence of trespass for any person to be found on private or public property which is posted or fenced as provided in subsection 2 without lawful business with the owner or occupant of the property.
4. An entryman on land under the laws of the United States is an owner within the meaning of this section.
5. As used in this section:
(a) “Cultivated land” means land that has been cleared of its natural vegetation and is presently planted with a crop.
(b) “Fence” means a barrier sufficient to indicate an intent to restrict the area to human ingress, including, but not limited to, a wall, hedge or chain link or wire mesh fence. The term does not include a barrier made of barbed wire.
(c) “Guest” means any person entertained or to whom hospitality is extended, including, but not limited to, any person who stays overnight. The term does not include a tenant as defined in NRS 118A.170.
- Scott v. Justice’s Court of Tahoe Township., 84 Nev. 9, 11-12, 435 P.2d 747, 748 – 749 (1967); Tsao v. Desert Palace, Inc., 698 F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. Nev. 2012).
- NRS 173.185.
- NRS 199.335.
- Nevada AGO 23 (3-17-1955).
- NRS 207.200(3).
- NRS 193.150; see, e.g., Associated Press, “Woman guilty of trespass in Clinton shoe-throwing incident,” Las Vegas Sun (Sept. 25, 2014).
- Arguably, hotel patrons have a property interest in their room. And that limits management’s right to exclude them. It seems fair that casinos should provide patrons written notice. And it should specify where the exile applies to. And for how long. These arguments are not full defenses. But they may help a Nevada trespass defense.
- NRS 207.200(2).
- First Amendment, U.S. Constitution.
- Ark. Educ. Tv Comm’n v. Forbes, 523 U.S. 666, 118 S. Ct. 1633 (1998); Perez-Morciglio v. Las Vegas Metro. Police Dep’t, 820 F. Supp. 2d 1100 (D. Nev. 2011).
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.
- 8 U.S.C. § 1227.
- Criminal Practice Act of 1911, § 500.
- Smith v. State, 120 Nev. 944, 946-947, 102 P.3d 569, 571 (2004).
- NRS 41.515; see also Lied v. County of Clark, 94 Nev. 275 (1978) 94 Nev. 275, 579 P.2d 171.
- NRS 200.120.